The future of the
Lord of the Rings Online is looking fairly busy.
is already hard at work putting together a big new update for
December. We called up Adam Mersky, Executive
Director of Communications for Turbine, and Aaron
Campbell, Senior Producer for LotRO, to see what's
coming with Update 5, and what Turbine has in
store for 2012.
style="float: right; margin-left: 10px;" />The first thing
Aaron talked about was the continuation of the
epic book. "This is a big one for us," he
said. "This is 'the Prince of Rohan,' and it's gonna be a great
story. It's focused around Theodred, and
really it's the tale of your goodbye to the rangers." Characters
will part ways with the Dunedain rangers of the Grey
Company, who have been their go-to guys for the epic
line for the past (almost) 5 years, and continue the march
eastward with their new friends and allies from Rohan.
"The other big thing that I don't think we've really talked
about before that's coming out with Update 5 is called the Instance
Finder," Aaron continued. This will continue the
ongoing evolution of instanced content. Way back when, everyone
had to travel to the instance entrance to start it up. Later,
mustering horns were added at many of the entrances, allowing
groups to assemble faster and spend more time actually running
the instances. The next step was the Instance Join panel, which
allowed players to enter instanced spaces from anywhere in the
world. The Instance Finder is the next step in this process.
"We're going to have a brand-new interface," Aaron said. It
will allow players to queue up for instances, either
individually or with a group. "Everyone who's opted in for that,
everyone who's looking for a space right then, in your level
band, et cetera, in the right roles, it will automatically match
you and send you into the space."
style="float: right; margin-left: 10px;" />Essentially, this
is a fellowship finder that doesn't require the use of chat
channels. This is new to LotRO, but the idea has been around for
a while in World
of Warcraft and EverQuest
II. Theoretically, pick-up groups for instances can
form faster, and casual players will be given more opportunity
to run group content.
This new tech will come in handy for the new instance
cluster, which will be centered around the Tower of
Orthanc, the infamous lair of the central protagonist in Rise of
Isengard, Saruman the Many-Coloured.
"We have three 3-person instances, a 6-person and a 12-person
raid, and all of those are centered very much around Orthanc,
and around Saruman himself," Aaron explained. "The theme is,
really, challenging Saruman directly. We know that he has been
forging these minor rings of power, and it's going to be your
challenge to go forth and stop him, destroy these rings. Or, at
least to some degree, his army, before he can begin to spread
outward and threaten Rohan."
Aaron went on to describe some of the new instances coming in
style="float: right; margin-left: 5px;" />"One that's exciting
to me is a 3-person called 'Fangorn's Edge.'
Basically, you're going to be going in to the edges of Fangorn
Forest for the first time, traveling through a really
heavily-trafficked area full of orcs and trolls and other
nasties who are working on burning down the forest, cutting down
the edges of it. The trees, as you might expect - the huorns and
the ents there - are not especially happy about intruders, and
they don't really know friend from foe, so you're going to have
both orcs and huorns as enemies to contend with, and different
sort of bosses as you work through the space." This one ends
with a big battle - "You've got these masses of orc lumberjacks
coming in, the trees are threatened, the giant sawmills are
going, and you're taking down the orc leaders there."
Another of the 3-person instances is called "Pits of
Isengard," which takes place in the caverns and
tunnels beneath Orthanc. The 6-person instance, called "The
Foundry," also takes place in Isengard's depths, and
requires the group to challenge Saruman's lieutenants more
"You're in a space where he's building his weapons of war,"
Aaron explained. "You're going to be taking on some orcs and
other creatures that have been enhanced well beyond their normal
The raid, called "The Tower of Orthanc,"
should prove very challenging - "In that, you're going to fight
your way through, ultimately challenging Saruman himself. You're
actually going to face him in battle." Lore purists may have an
issue with this - there is no official account of any force
actually breaching the tower to confront Saruman directly, even
during the uprising and assault by the enraged ents of Fangorn
Forest - but it should prove very interesting to actually come
face to face with such an iconic and powerful villain.
Of course, the challenge means little without a reward. The new
raid comes with new armor sets and items - an instance set and a
raid set. This new gear will not likely render existing endgame
gear obsolete, since the level cap has not been raised, but will
provide players with a broader array of options. These new items
will be purchased with barter tokens, but, as Aaron explains,
"We're actually going to be taking the step of consolidating
some of our currencies as well, so we're going to have raid
currencies and dungeon currencies. Basically, rather than
looking at different kinds of tokens coming from each of the
spaces you're in, we're going to do it more like a system where
you have these new medallions or items coming from
top-tier raids, and another set of tokens coming from dungeon
spaces or other instances for 3 and 6 players. And then of
course, skirmishes have their own currency, but there are a lot
of them, so we want to make that process simpler."
So this is all scheduled for Update 5, coming in December, but
what's in store for next year? Adam explained, "We're not really
ready yet to talk about 2012, but I can tell you this: we're
certainly very focused on Update 5 and getting that out... but
there's going to be a lot more content in 2012 than there was in
2011. Isengard was our best-selling expansion ever, and we're
definitely taking that and investing in the franchise next year,
we have a lot of exciting things coming. There will be some big
announcements coming probably in January."
If you want to check out the coming changes, scheduled for
December, Update 5 will begin open beta testing on Bullroarer
starting on Tuesday.
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